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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  October 8, 2014 12:00am-1:01am EDT

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>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight, leon panetta, former secretary of defense, director of the c.i.a. director of the office of management budget and chief of staff of president clinton talks about his new memoir thurty of fights a memoir of leadership and war and peace and about president obama. >> i think that the president and congress and whatever reason cannot confront the issues important to this country. >> rose: bob gates said the same thing in his book. >> i think that we are looking at a moment in time in the 21st century where the issue is going to be are we going to governor this country by leadership or by crises. if leadership is there and takes
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the risks associated with leadership then we can avoid crises. if not we're governed by crises and that's largely how we're governing today. >> rose: leon panetta for the hour, next. >> and by bloomberg. a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: few people in the history of our government have held so many high level positions than leon panetta. director of defense, director of the c.i.a. director of the
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office of management and budget, chief of staff of president clinton. he's retired from government and wrirch his memoir called worthy fights memoir of leadership in war and peace. i spoke to him recently on the council of foreign relations about the book and about his observations today about president obama and our country. thank you for joining us. >> nice to be with you, charlie. >> rose: how does it feel to complete this. this is more than just simply about politics, it's more than a memoir. this is almost a biography, you go all the way back and further. >> i wanted to kind of tell my story. i think it's the story of the american dream, you know, son of italian immigrants. i remember asking my dad why he came all that distance to a strange country, no money, no skills, no language ability. and he said my mother and he thought they could give their children a better life. i think that's the american
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dream and i've had the chance to really live that dream and i wanted to share that with people because i really as the book points out, had the opportunity to work at some of the highest levels in government. and that's, that is the fulfillment of what the american dream is all about. >> rose: there's some people, not to become secretary of defense and c.i.a. director and chief of staff of the whitehouse and office of management budget, some people say just being able to give your children a life better than you've had is no longer so easy. something's wrong with the american dream. >> i think that's a concern. i mean, there are two things that also inspired me to write the book. one was, you know, at our institute for public policy, we deal with a lot of young people. and what i'm sensing is, you know, i was inspired to get into public life because i really felt it was a higher calling. john kennedy said ask not what your country can do for you but
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what you can do for your country. i took that to heart. i see in young people this sense of frustration with washington, with dysfunction in washington, and that they don't have that inspiration to really get involved. so i thought maybe this book might help do that. the second thing that i think -- >> rose: service should be a noble calling. >> that's right. and the second thing is that you know, there is this american dream. and i think it goes back to the founding of this nation which is that our forefathers really believed that the purpose of america was to give our children a better life. that's what this country's all about. >> rose: what's been the most satisfying thing about this life. >> you know, i've really had a lot of satisfying moments, that's why i call it worthy fights. because almost every fight i've taken on, has in its own way been very rewarding. i mean, when i first went to the office for civil rights, fighting for civil rights at a time when it was tough to do in the south and trying to give
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kids an equal shot at an equal education, that was rewarding in its own right. working as a congressman in the california coast and being in the marine sanctuary, this was very rewarding. stuff i did on the budget as chairman of the budget committee and as omb director working on budget agreements that ultimately helped produce a balanced budget. that felt very good. but i guess, you know, the one thing that is tough to beat is the operation to go after bin laden and helping to put that together, getting the intelligence, doing the work on the operation itself, and then having it all work. >> rose: but you were in charge. >> that's correct. c.i.a. director, it was a covert operation and i was responsible to oversee that. >> rose: what were the toughest moments that night? >> there is no question that when one of those helicopters went down, there were a lot of
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very nervous people. at the whitehouse, and i was at the c.i.a. this is two helicopters had to go 150 miles into pakistan at night, and hopefully not be detected as they went in. they were followed by thank god by two shinooks that was going as back up. you had two helicopters going in at night followed by two shinooks. we were following the operation and whatoimand there's been a hf heat on the ground and that heat is confined and we didn't realize how hot it was on the ground and when they got there and that happened, thank god he was a tough old army pilot.
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he was able to handle that cop copter, and i remember seeing that going down and the premonition this is going down real head. i asked the head of special forces and he was there in afghanistan, i said bill, what the hell is going on. and he didn't miss a beat. he said don't worry about it, he says they're going to breach the walls. they've got the shinook coming in as a back up. he was cool as a cucumber. >> rose: you didn't know with certainty he was there. >> that's the tough thing about this mission. we put a lot of intelligence pieces together and every time, you know, i kept pushing our people,xñ particularly because
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there was one moment we would see an individual go walk in the compound like a prisoner walking in prison yard. i said can we not identify this person, put telescopes on the mountain, cameras on the wall. they said it's very tough to do, walls are in the way, they're really secured. i said i've seen movies whereuzo the c.i.a. can do this. you can't tell me you can't get this done. we couldn't get that final information. we had good information, good intelligence, the best we've had on his location since bora bora. but the fact, bottom line is we did not know for sure whether osama bin laden was really there. >> rose: bob gates said this was a remarkable decision by the president of the united states. courageous decision, he was calm and cool under fire, and he had the most to lose if it didn't succeed. can you share that. >> there's no question. this was a very gutsy decision by the president. because particularly when you
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consider the national security council going around the table and the president basically asked everybody what do you think, there were a lot of people around that table whoxgw. >> rose: bob gates included. >> that's right. bob gates was one of those. >> rose: secretary clinton. >> secretary&cer> rose: and you. >> there were people with the intelligence area. >> rose: what did you say. >> the president asked me what i thought, and i said mr. president, i have an old formula i used when i was in the congress, which was that when i faced the tough decision if i asked an ordinary person in my district if you knew what i did what would you do. in this instance if i asked an average citizen and told them we had the best intelligence on the location of osama bin laden since bora bora, i think most
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citizens would say you've got to go through with this. >> rose: bob gates wanted to bomb them and destroy the building. >> we looked at frankly three approaches. one was the idea of using a b2 bomber which would blow the hell out of place. but it would involve so much weaponry it would level other villages nearby. so we decided against it. the other one was to target in a more precise targeting you could use would drone. the third was to do the commando operation with these special forces, and i think we eventually came to the decision that that was the best way to do it. by the way, one of the challenges should we do:añ that with the pakistanis or not, and the concern was that we had found in the past when we identified targets with pakistanis, that we couldn't trust them because they would alert people. and so we decided to do the same thing. >> rose: you have said when you look at isis, this is going to be a 30-year battle.
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what should we be doing today? >> i think the president has made the right decision to go after isis and take them on. you know, when we were confronting al-qaeda, and going after the leadership of al-qaeda and the involvement in 9/11 the mission was dismantle, disrupt and destroy al-qaeda. that's what the president said, and that was his direction to us. and with regards to isis, i think they're every bit as fanatical. every bit as dangerous, every bit as terrorist as al-qaeda, and we ought to take the same mission against isis. it is easy, you know, i view this charlie is kind of a continuum from 9/11. 911 we declared war on the attack. if you look at the broad view on terrorism isis is another piece
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of that because they are intent on attacking this country as well. i think we have to view this in that larger context and for that reason this has to be a very ,>> rose: they got the training in iraq. >> that's right. >> rose: how does it feel on the battlefield because you've seen the significant number of air strikes but they seem to be continued to be moving forward and challenged. >> yes. they are resilient. if there's anything i learned at the c.i.a. dealing with al-qaeda, it's that they can be very resilient. >> rose: not enough to kill the leadership. >> no. they learn what your tactics are and they adjust to those tactics and you got to adjust. you got to be very flexible to be able to make a move against them. here i think the same thing is happening. i mean i think they're learning. air strikes, you know, can have a certain amount of impact but if they're adjusting to that,
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basically mixing in with the civilian population. >> rose: traveling at night. >> hiding their tanks and their mobile equipment under bridges and putting camouflage on it, they are taking whatever steps are necessary so that they won't be targeted. to deal with that, you have got to have intelligence that develops those targets. it took us three years to develop good intelligence in pakistan when we were going after al-qaeda's core leadership. three years. in yemen it took us one year to develop that kind of capability, intelligence capability on the ground so you could identify targets. here, it's going to take at least that long to develop that kind of intelligence. >> rose: does this come from cia or special forces or whom. >> it's a+= combination. i mean basically a lot of it is c.i.a.'s capability to develop the intelligence resources we need, the assets we need in order to give us the kind of critical information that you
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have to have if you're going to be able to target their leadership. >> rose: you're the former director of the c.i.a. has the c.i.a. and other intelligence services part of the u.s. intelligence security apparatus served the country and the president as it should? you know what the president said. >> i know what the president said and i know what÷said. and you know, bottom line is there's never enough intelligence. i mean one of the things i always worried about as director of the c.i.a. is being surprised. because it only takes one surprise to hurt this country and that's what happened on 9/11. it happened in iraq. >> rose: but you're in a position to judge whether they did the job well and did the job that was necessary for the president. did they or did they not? >> you know, i have to tell you when i was there during the four years, we had pretty good intelligence that was provided
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about the al-qaeda affiliate that was developing in syria. and we knew that there were extremists that were there. we knew that al-qaeda was there and we knew that it was very dangerous tor3e have this kind f al-qaeda element developing in the chaos of syria because what the implications would be not only in syria but against iraq. whether or not they ultimately had the intelligence on isis and what they had i'm not aware of because i wasn't there. >> rose: there was even public testimony in some cases and others testified before congress. >> i think they teed up some of the dangers. i think the problem was because of the chaos in syria, because of the situation in iraq, frankly there wasn't enough attention paid on the broader implications of both areas how it contributed to the breeding
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of an isis. >> rose: it is the biggest foreign policy challenge for the united states at this moment. >> no question. i think that's right. i think the president has taken the right step. i think it was the right step to form a coalition. it's the right step to conduct these air attacks. i think the challenge here is that it is going to be a long and sustained effort. it's going to take time. i think that's one of theos efforts. i would like to see a resolution. >> rose: is it necessary to have a resolution. >> he could do it based on the authority he has as commander in chief and based on the authority given him by the congress. but because we are in a very long and sustained effort against a group called isis that's going to take a long time, i really think this
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country needs to restate our commitment to going after them. >> rose: you told me in an earlier program you thought it was a mistake by the president to go to the congress with respect to the red line and syria and the attack that he was developing that the u.s. was developing against damascus. >> no, i did, because as commander in chief, when you have an imminent situation where you have drawn a red line and they have used chemical warfare to go after men, women and children, cross that red line, i think in that situation the commander in chief needs to act quickly. here because this is going to be a long and sustained and prolonged war against isis, i think this is a situation where we really do have to unify the country behind what could be a very long war. >> as you know, weinberg and secretary powell and then chairman joint chiefs powell developed this idea to go out
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and use the american people with all the force necessary and more. that would include probably combat troops. is america ready to put combat trodós on the ground in syria? >> i don't think america is ready for that. i'm not sure it's needed. >> rose: but if it is. >> well, look, i don't know that we need to create 100,000 or 150,000 force to invade iraq again and to invade syria or >j]t countries.i/w i think we can do this. using the capabilities we have in working with the other coalitions that are part of it, to be able to go after them effectively. now, does that mean that the president ought to keep his options on the table? yes. >> rose: you don't tell people we're not going to do it because that sends a signal to the enemy. >> i think the president needs
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to keep his options on the table, the commander in chief needs to do whatever is necessary in order to conduct this. >> rose: here's what you said about the president, talking about his legacy. we're at a point where i think the jury's still out. for the first four years and the time i spent there, i thought he was a stronger leader on security issues including osama bin laden. the two years since then, i think he's kind of lost his way, you know. it's been a mixed message and ambivalence on this issue and what congress is all about. he's lost as weight. >> wheniv i was there, he supported our separations, he supported expanding those operations, supported bin laden operations, he supported the development of a defense tragedy for the future. he was, i think, a strong leader with regards to the war on
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terrorism. the last two years, i think what happened was he looked at a country that was frustrated, exhausted by over ten years of war. >> rose: but you said he lost his way. >> he lost his conviction that we had to constantly go after terrorism, we had to constantly be involved in a very troubled world because i think he wanted to hopefully be able to focus again on this country and what needed to be done here. >> rose: a couple important decisions. one is the red line and decision not to go ahead with the attack. you think that was damaging to the president's leadership around the world? >> i think credibility of the commander in chief is whether or not when you say something, you stand by it. i mean, when you're dealing with a pretty rough world and dealing with what we face in this kind of difficult world, the strength of the united states is that we say what we intend to do and we
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do it. you can do it with military power, we do it with diplomatic power, we do it with economic power. we have a lot of capability. but when you say it, it's important to stand by that word. i think when the president drew that line and said, you know. >> rose: if you make chemical weapons. >> if you use chemical weapons against your people then we will not tolerate that. i think when he drew that line and i think there are some people questioned whether or not he should have drawn the line. but when he drew that line, then i think as commander in chief when that line is crossed, you have to take action. >> rose: notwithstanding that the russians proposed the chemical deal we've got all the chemical weapons out of syria. >> yes. because frankly -- >> rose: just for the symbol of american leadership it was important to go ahead, notwithstanding that was a deal made in the interim to take the chemical weapons out. >> i think two things. number one, when you draw that line, they cross that line, they
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used chemical weapons on their own people and kill innocent men, women and children, that the united states has to make clear that they cannot do that. i think it would have been important to do that, and frankly, both the president and the vice president, secretary of state pretty much were going in that direction. and i think everybody expected that they would in fact do that. and i'm not sure what made him change his position on that. but i think when he did that, it sent a message to the world thatraises questionst credibility of the united states. and so what he's done now, in going in after isis and saying we clearly are going to go after them, i think it has gone a long way to hopefully repair the damage. >> rose: repair the damage and rewrite his legacy. >> exactly. >> rose: there was also a moment in which he was asked to support the presyrian army, so-called moderate forces. he declined to do that and the vice president said he made the right decision, former deputy director of the c.i.a. said he
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made the right decision at that time but you say it was a mistake. if in fact he made a different decision, isil might not have had an opportunity to grow where it is today. >> yes. look, who knows ultimately how it would have played out but i think the reality is that the president today is making the decision that we should arm and train moderate forces in the opposition in syria. it's the right decision. >> rose: more difficult to do it today than it was then. >> if it's the right decision today, it was the right decision two years ago because frankly we would have been ahead of the game. >> rose: talk about the president's mind. here's you, secretary clinton, c.i.a. director dave petraeus all saying do this. >> right, and martin dempsey. >> rose: chairman of the joint chiefs. and he says no. it makes up his own mind but what else does it say. >> i think the president of the united states is the president of the united states. you present your best case, you tell them why it's important,
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but in the end, the president has to make the final decision. i think the president made the decision based on the concern that when these weapons would go into this kind of chaotic situation, where you have a hundred different elements to the opposition, that they might wiped up in the wrong hands, and i think that bothered him. >> rose: is it possible he's listening to other people? >> i don't know. >> rose: close to him? who would know? was he listening to the national security council. maybe they had a different opinion than his secretary had. >> i think -- >> rose: his political people. >> i think deep down what he didn't want to do was provide these arms and then have them get into the wrong hands and then kind of create another situation where we would have to be in an even deeper commitment in terms of that. >> rose: they were wereu#f'% - worried arms would get into the hands of other people.
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>> i think that's what he was concerned about. >> rose: do you think he's advised as well today as he was that first term. >> you know, these are good people that are around him. i mean, i think obviously secretary hagel, secretary kerry, vice president biden's still there. and the intelligence people are all good people. i mean, i think, you know, i have to believe that they're there and they're presenting their opinions to the president as much as -- >> rose: comeyou know how wash, and players act and how the whitehouse works. is the president getting the same kind of advice he got his first term and is it of a different nature now? >> charlie, it's tough for me to be in that room in the national security council. what i do know is in the four years i did sit in the national security council, having secretary clinton there, having secretary gates there, having myself there, having others
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there, that basically presented very strong advice to the president, i thought was a good situation because there was that good give and take that takes place. i think it's important, one of the problems i see in a broader context is that the president is not as exposed to all of the views that he should be getting in order to be able to make some very tough decisions. i think you've got to open up that, those view points to the president of the united states. and i think it is important for him to get broad experienced view points, not just for inside the whitehouse but from outside the whitehouse as well, particularly when you're facing the tough decisions that he's facing now. >> rose: you said a couple other things that are interesting. you say that obama's most conspicuous weakness is a frustrating reticence to engage his opponents and rally support for his call. too often he relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader. on occasion he avoids the
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battle, complains and misses opportunities. that was about domestic as well as foreign. that's an indictment of leadership. >> well look, this is a president that i believe can be a stronger leader. i've seen him be a stronger leader. >> rose: but. >> i've seen him take strong positions, i've seen him fight for those positions. and i believe that you know, look, i want this president to succeed. i really do. i want the president to succeed because i want the country to succeed. but what i sense now is that in washington, generally, i mean the difference i see is that when the president has confronted a very difficult congress, this is a difficult congress, there are republicans, some of the tea party members that basically want to shut down the government, that basically want to undermine the programs that sort of people. in confronting that kind of opposition, the president is very frustrated by a group of
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people that simply will not try to do what is important. >> rose: so therefore he leaves the battle. >> i think what he does is he kind of, because he knows he can't get anywhere, there's the sense of giving up both by the president and the leadership in the congress. because in many ways, that's what's happened in washington. they've given up on getting a budget deal to rules the deficit. they'remg giving up on immigratn reform. they've given up on infrastructure funding, given up on trade legislation. the congress is basically trying to pull back and said we're just not going to deal with it. i think that is dangerous for this country and for its future. you want to know -- >> rose: it's dangerous that the president gives up and he gave up. >> do you know what the biggest national security threat right now is? i think it's the dysfunction in washington and the fact that the president and congress for whatever reason cannot confront the issues that are important to this country. >> rose: and the consequence of not doing that. because bob gates said the same
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thing in his book. >> i think that we are looking at a moment in time in the 21st century where the issue is going to be are we going to govern this country by leadership or by crises. if leadership is there and takes the risks associated with leadership, then i think we can avoid crises. but if not, we're governed by crises and that's largely how we're governing today. >> rose: what happens to foreign countries like china and russia and other people whether friend or enemy, looks at us and has questions about how effective we can play our role in the world, which is the leadership role. >> i think when you look at what is a very dangerous world, where there are a number of threats. this isn't just about isis, it's about russia, it's about china, it's about north korea, it's about dealing with iran, it's about dealing with cyber attacks. it's about dealingjãwith a lot f challenges that we're confronting. if you add that with the
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dysfunction in washington, i think that it's a moment in time where all americans have to be concerned about where is the united states going for this 21st century. where is the dream that my parents had about giving their children a better life. where is the dream of american that can exercise the kind of leadership that all of us believe is important for the future. those are questions out there. >> rose: what should he do? what would you do. >> i believe in american leadership, i really do. i've been at this game over 50 years, and i see leadership rise to the occasion and face crises whether it was wars, recessions or whether it's natural disasters. and the reason i believe in it is because when you look at the american people and when i looked at the men and women in uniform who kind of put their lives on the line for this country, i know that there are
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values out there in which the strength of america really lies. and i think ultimately it's up to the leadership to recognize that the american people want them to lead, want them to take the risks, want them to be able to assert the kind -- >> rose: i still don't understand what the president exercising leadership could have done with respect to the deadlock in washington, the grid lock in washington, a, that he didn't do other than 4ggesting he left the battlefield out of frustration. that's what your indictment of him is that maybe he had the executive power, he alone had the chance to make it work and he got frustrated and quit. >> let me tell you. what i think is going to happen right now regardless what happens in this next election, i think we're in for the likelihood of another two and-a-half years of stalemate. >> rose: until the next presidential election. >> and i don't think he can afford that.
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and frankly i don't think this president can afford that. so what i'm saying is this president, i think, has got to roll up his sleeves and yes he's going to have to deal with people he may not like. yes, he's going to have to fight some battles he may not like to fight. but the reality is that he could by virtue of getting into the ring, i think establish a legacy that is very important for his presidency. >> rose: he can save his presidency in terms of whatever concerns he may have or his friends may have about his legacy. getting in the ring. >> that's right. get in the ring. >> rose:s >> rose:s -- has he been in the ring. >> he's been in the ring but the problem is he hasn't kept the pressures on the institutions of our democracy to do what they have to do. look, presidents have faced tough consequences throughout our history. you know, bill clinton faced a tough congress. but he also understood that in the end, you still have to engage with people.
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you still have a cut a deal. >> rose: is this about this president's personality, his mind set, his experience? is that the reason he's different than bill clinton, lyndon johnson. >> this president is extremely bright, extremely able, extremely interested in doing the right thing. >> rose: but you just said he's not in the fight. >> but the problem is, if you want to be able to get things done in washington, you have got to fight for it. you have got to fight for it every day. look, when we had to pass a budget by bill clinton, the democrats or the republicans took a walk. so we had to pass it on the democratic side. we established it, we went after every vote, we had to work every vote and ultimately we were able to win it by one vote in the house. one vote. and one vote in the senate, the vice president's vote. that was because of a tough
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fight to get it done. that's the kind of dedication to how we should push our democracy. >> rose: but you haven't told me why is bill clinton that way and barack obama is?.ñ not that way. >> the one thing that's different between the two of them, bill clinton loves politics, lovers the engagement, loves to cut a deal. i think barack obama as a law professor wants the logic of his position to basically persuade people. and in washington, logic isn't enough. you've got to be able to go in and be able to push people in the right direction. >> rose: exercise power. >> you've got to do that. abraham lincoln in the 13th amendment had to basically go to the congress and he had to buy some votes, he had to go after those votes in order to pass the 13th amendment. >> rose: where were you when the president wasn't do this. were you whispering in his ear at a meeting saying
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mr. president i've been around for a long time, i've been in the congress, momb. >> there's a crazy thing called sequester. sequester was this crazy mechanism that congress developed to basically shoot themselves in the head. they put a gun to the head and said if we don't do the right thing we'll pull the trigger. so they don't do the right thing and suddenly this drastic cut is going to go into effect. i went to the president and i went to the leadership of the congress and i said look, this is going to damage the country. it's going to hurt our defense, it's going to hurt our readiness, it's going to basically hollow out our capability and it's going to hurt domestic programs that are important. they said you're right, this is terrible. and i said okay, so what do we do about this. >> rose: both sides saidleader. >> absolutely. >> rose: the president said you're right. >> both sides said you're right, this is going to hurt the country. i said i'll tell you what, i'll put another hundred billion in defense savings on the table if that will help you cut a deal.
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nothing happened. nothing happened. teddy roosevelt once said when you're facing a tough decision, the best thing you could do is to make the right decision. the next best thing you could do is to make the wrong decision. the worst thing you can do is to do nothing. >> rose: yes. here's what you wrote. the budget deal that included automatic spending cuts and under sequestration nearly everyone agreed they were bad politics. panetta says he found himself a lonely figure actively opposing them lobbying congress knowing the cuts would hurt national security. >> yes. you know look u i've been a member of congress. i was elected to the congress and served in the congress for 16 years. when you serve in the congress, your responsibility, the oath you swear is to protect this country. you don't do things that
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deliberately hurt the country. >> rose: what changed. >> i think there's a lot of things contributing to that and people are asking the question what created the dysfunction we see today. there are a lot of factors i think are involved. too much money, redis3]jn÷ that creates safe seats, a media that -- >> rose: you're saying this when we're having a one hour session. >> i think that there's a lot of emphasis on the conflict rather than the people trying to resolve issues. and i think that as a result of all of that, there's a sense of not taking the risks that you have to take in order to govern. and frankly, leadership is all about taking risks. it's about sometimes jeopardizing your own political position in order to do what's right for the country. i remember telling george bush when we agreed on the budget deal. >> rose: this is 43. >> this is 41. we cut a budget deal. we'll talk about working
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together. we were three months out at the air force base. republicans and democrats working on a deal to reduce the deficit. and we came together. >> rose: richard darman and the like. >> yes. the president said if democrats put spending cuts on the table i'm willing to put revenues on the table. he had to move his lips to do that. that was a gutsy decision. do you do you know what, it was the right decision for the country. >> rose: some people say it contributed to an amazing presence in re-election. >> i understand that. >> rose: didn't have enthusiasm of his own party. >> heewhat he did in that budgel and i told him i said you did the right thing and i think you should have really stood up and defended doing the right thing. because do you know what, the combination of that agreement plus the clinton budget helped balance the budget for this country and produced a strong economy. >> rose: some people say the budget today is very low when you look at the challenges we're
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facing. >> i think what i'm scared about with the defense budget is the uncertainty in washington with regards to the budget. i mean, right now instead of developing a budget, they basically kicked the can down the road. they did a continuing resolution into after the election. the likelihood is when they come back, they'll do another continuing resolution. and we may be facing again the prospect of again going into sequester or going into another shut down. that instability and uncertainty is really eroded our ability to maintain our national definances the way we should. i would like them to develop a long term five-year agreement on the budget that says this is what we're going to do on defense. so that we know what needs to be cut but we know that there's stability in terms of defense budget for the next five years. >s?ñ rose: so you talk aboutprt
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president bush 43. there's president clinton. there's also hillary clinton. >> yes. >> rose: tell me about her. not in terms whether you@iher oe president but in terms of where she stands in all these quality we've been talking about. give me some specifics. >> i dealt an awful lot with her when she was secretary of state and i was secretary of defense and i was c.i.a. director. and you know, i found her to be very strong believing in strength of america, believing in the position of the united states in the world and our need to exercise leadership. i mean, we went to the arab countries and basically said that they ought to put together a defense system similar to what's going on with the coalition, we ought to put together a defense system to be able to have them work as a group to assist us in dealing
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with the challenges in the middle east. and she was there, she was in the room and i was there and we were talking to these arab countries to do exactly that. wherever i have gone with her, i have always found her to be a strong and reliable friend. >> rose: you were in good standing with the democratic party. >> yes, indeed. >> rose: i heard they have apprehension about hillary clinton. she's too much of a shock, she's too close to wall street and her inestimates are too centrist. do you agree withám that, she's all those things. >> well. >> rose: wolffish, centrist, close to wall street. >> yes. she's strong on national security and like her husband i think she wants to in terms of our economy develop a broad base
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economy where wall street has to play a role in terms of being able to strengthen our economy. i want the ability of president to kind of reach out to this country in many ways, to bring this country together. i think we're too divided right now. i think the country is. >> rose: divided over? >> i think we're divided politically, i think we're divided in terms of our views as to what's the direction. >> rose: and our role that world. >> and our role that world. i think there's a lot of division and i think what we have to do is bring this country together. because i think in the 21st century, in the year 2014, i think we face the decision of going in one of two directions. i think we can be an american renaissance. we can be a country with a strong economy and defense for the world that developed energy
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independence and develop a world for our children in the future. i think we have the potential to be that kind of america for the future. but i also think we can be in american decline if we allow the kind of crises by crises dysfunction that we see in washington to prevail. so we've got a fundamental decision to make in this country as to what direction do we want to take for the future. >> rose: there are challenges we didn't have in the past. the size of the economy will exceed the gross size of the economy some time soon. you've got russia which is a different attitude it seems today than it might have been when there was talk of cooperation or resetting and all of that. the president made a decision to pivot to china. did you agree with that decision. >> yes. we recommended that we would do a rebalance to asia pacific. >> rose: is that the future? >> because that is the future in
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terms of countries that are developing their economies. an area where there's a tremendous potential for trade, for prosperity. and where i think you know, our interests are in developing a strong security presence in the pacific. to work with those countries to make sure -- >> rose: you were head of c.i.a. and you still talk to people whoj+ know things. what do you make of this new president of china, president xi ping. >> there's no question in my mind. i really found him to be a very interesting individual because normally when i used to meet with the chinese, we used to
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operate off of talking points. and the talking points always included taiwan, this group that are concerned about other issues. you don't get through the talking points. she basically engaged in a situation in which he said, for example, why you balancing with the pacific in doing that. and i said because what we're interested in the pacific power, your pacific power i think you want peace and prosperity in this region. we face some common threats from north korea and other areas. we can work together with the countries in southeast ayeah to really produce pre prosperity for the future and he agreed with that. but he was willing to talk about
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it. i talked about the kaisheklc -- cyber world and cyber attacks. and he said we ought to create a dialogue. i saw him as somebody who wants to strengthen china but who really does also want to engage with the united states and other countries of the world. >> rose: at the same time they went to africa and other countries. do they have more of a long term strategy than we do. >> china is interested in doing what's important for china. i think if you read henry kissinger he basically says this is about china. this is about their kingdom and that's what they focus on. >> rose: that's what you expect from a leadership isn't it. >> but it's important to understand where they're coming from and i think that's the focus they v they're looking at ways to improve their economy, to develop the resources they need in their economy for the view. i think you have to understand
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that's where they're headed. does that mean we have to engage and check them when they overstep the bounds. i think we have;aiçzx to. their claim to territorial claims to the south china sea. the fact they're trying to assert themselves in violations of international rules. i think we've got to say to them that's wrong and we've got to find better ways to try to deal with that. but i think it is important to have communication with china for the future. >> rose: and russia and ukraine. >> i think russia, you know the danger we're facing now is what i would call almost a renewal of the cold war. >> rose: do you think it's in part because they saw the president as weak? >> i think that putin, everybody dealt with putin.
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his gold is to try to make very certain that russia again extends its influence over the former countries that were part of the soviet union. that's his goal, to divide east from west and to make that assertion. and i think what he did in the ukraine is in part a reflection of his read that perhaps the united states would not take action. >> rose: so how does the united states convince him otherwise? >> i think you have to make very clear to him. >> rose: how do you do that. >> well, it's not just sanctions. i think sanctions are important but it's not just sanctions. i think frankly we ought to be providing aid to the ukrainians. i think we ought to provide military aid to the ukrainians. >> rose: by sending them tanks and military assistance. >> i think they need military assistance. >> rose: that's tanks and things like that. >> yes. russia's strong but we need to make russia understand they're going to have to pay a price.
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thirdly, i think it's very important for us to strengthen nato, strengthen the nato presence in the countries adjoining. russia. fourthly, frankly, i would resurrect the whole issue of missile defense. we have been engaged in negotiations with them on missile defenses. if they're going to behave the think we are now in charging them to the ukraine we have to resurrect the prospect we're going to again start talking to countries about missile defense. and lastly i think we've got to develop over the long term another source of energy for those countries in europe and in the former soviet union. we're not using energy abroad. >> rose: we will be the largest energy supply in the world. >> that's right and we should make use of that in order to try to give these countries another source of energy. >> rose: iran. do you think there will be a deal?
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>> i'd like to hope and pray there will be a deal. >> rose: i know. we all do. what does your analysis tell you. you talk, you know. you know how far apart they are. you know what they're demanding. >> i do. i've always had concerns about iran and their intentions around the world because very frankly i've seen thetheir secret polic. >> rose: you like to have a conversation with the general. >> i would love to have an opportunity to talk with him. they have in essence spread terrorism through five continents trying to produce'it instability. they're a dangerous customer to deal with. they have to understand there's no way we should allow them to develop their nuclear capability and certainly not. >> rose: what does that mean? >> i think the president took the right step in getting the international community to apply
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sanctions against iran. i think these are very tough sanctions and i think they ultimately help bring them to the table. but i think it's very important now we're at the table to make very clear we're not going to allow them to have the ability to develop. >> rose: at what point if you're secretary of defense, if you were cia director, would you say tob'azw9 the president we ho strike their nuclear facilities now. when would you advise the president to do that? >> well, we had a lot of that to date in the time i was there as c.i.a. director and as secretary of defense. i think it was very clear to me that if the iranians made the decision they were going to produce a nuclear weapon and we had the intelligence to back that up, that we would not allow that to happen.r even if that meant military
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action. >> rose: you would have taken it out, strike against. >> that's right. >> rose: they have not made that de. >> that's correct. >> rose: as long as you're negotiating you assume they haven't made that de. >> at least the intelligence analysis at the time when i left the something of defense they had not made that decision at that point in time. >> rose: at what point do you think israel will say we can't wait for the united states, we think they've already made that decision. >> well, when i was secretary of defense, they actually got to the point where we thought they had made the decision that they were not going to, they really felt that it was important to strike iran now and strike their nuclear capability. because i think they were concerned about a so-called fast track in which when they made the decision, they could produce it within a short period of time. and they just did not feel that they wanted to give them that ability. we engaged in long conversations
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with them. i think we indicated look, you know, you can give them a black eye but you can't take out their capabilities the way we can. and recognizing that, i think they made the decision believing that we would act if they in fact made the decision to develop a nuclear weapon. i think they were willing to give us that. whether they're willing to do that now, i don't know. >> rose: so you've written this book, worthywas it hard wo. >> it's work because you want to be able to make sure it's accurate and that you've got the stuff. particularly look, the stuff from my background, the stuff from the time i was in congress and civil rights, etcetera. i mean those are things that i had a pretty good feel for it. but when you're dealing with the c.i.a. stuff and you're dealing with the defense stuff, you want to make sure that's accurate as possible. we had to actually make sure that c.i.a. and the defense
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department signed off on that. >> rose: at the same time the president didn't sign off on it. >> although he did send them a copy of it. >> rose: some say, and there is a tone of analysis about the president as a leader. there are those who say you know, he appointed you to two of the highest positions that this country has to offer. just wait until he's out of office before criticizing him. >> do you know what, it's exactly because i am very loyal to this president, because i want him to succeed. that i think it's important to raise these issues now so that hopefully in two and-a-half years we ask make sure that he really does have the kind of legacy that i think he deserves as president. and besides that, i don't think he put a hold on history. i think the american people are
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entitled to understand history and what's involved in the policy decisions that this country makes. and they're smart enough to make their own judgment as to what's right and wrong. this is a free country and i believe in the judgment of the american people and i think history is what that's all about. >> rose: thank you. >> thank you. >> rose: it's a pleasure. good to see you. >> nice to see you, charlie. >> rose: the book is called worthy fights, leon panetta. thank you for joining us. see you next time. visit on-line atctucharlierose. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by
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media access group at wgbh s
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and new ideas through programs like this. made available for everyone through contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ... hurley: most people when they talk about intelligence say iq and they think it's this nerdy thing that, you know, how good you are at math. that's an example of intelligence but it's not the one that really matters in real life. we're talking about people's ability to figure things out that nobody explained to them previously.


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